February 25, 2010

Updates! And Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe!

Obviously, I am pretty behind on my blogging. I was going through my pictures last night, and I noticed that I never posted pictures of the Superbowl, or the pics/review that I had originally promised from when I went to the new sushi restaurant in town. Sorry! I also have a recipe that my friend Heather sent me that I wanted to post. I'm not planning on posting much (if at all) while we are on vacation, so I am going to try to catch up and give you some interesting posts in the next week or so to make up for it. Because I am going to the sushi place again tonight for dinner, I thought I would wait to publish that post until after tonight (you know, to give you a richer, better experience. Or whatever). And I wanted to post Heather's recipe with another variation...and preferably some pics. So - today I will post some pics from Superbowl, and give you an update on life in general. Lucky you!

I hosted the Superbowl this year...it was pretty low key, just Steve and I, Tara and Eli, and Gina, Michael and their two kids. If I remember correctly, we had buffalo chicken dip (have you had this? I will post the recipe. It is sooo good, and sooo bad for you), guacamole, stuffed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped jalapeno thingies (both from the PW website) as our major food groups. Along with refreshments, of course. I didn't take enough pics of the food, but here are a few of the celebration:

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Thingies - these are delicious. Click on the link above to go the recipe on PW's website


Gina and Renee, preparing the kiddies dinner (because evidently toddlers don't like jalapenos??? kidding)

Cam, sporting one of my shoes

Eli and Cameron. Does Gina have the cutest kids on the planet, or what?! (You are cute too Eli!) Cam totally wasn't giving me the time of day, but he loved Eli.

From left to right: Eli, Kempton, me, Steve. This was the last quarter of the game...we were FULL and just kickin it! Evidently I didn't get any pictures of Michael :( I'm sorry Ski! I will do better next time!

Buffalo Chicken Dip Yumminess:
You can curse Stephanie for this recipe...she brought it to a work function a few years ago and introduced it into our lives. It's probably the reason why we are friends. And the reason for her existence. HA!

  • 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast. You can use 2 large cans of pre-cooked chicken instead, but it makes me unhappy, so I try not to.
  • 1 cup of ranch dressing 
  • 1 cup of Franks Original Red Hot (do not substitute this please)
  • 1 8 oz block of cream cheese
  • 1 package of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups) 
  • Whatever you want to dip...I use Fritos Scoops and celery sticks 
 Boil your chicken breasts until cooked all the way through and pre heat the oven to 350. Remove chicken to a plate and let cool - then shred it with two forks, or if you are lazy (like me), just cut it into small cubes. In a big bowl, mix the chicken, ranch, Franks, and cream cheese together (if you want, you can use a hand mixer and mix the ranch, Franks and cream cheese until smooth...then stir in the chicken). Then, I mix in half of the cheddar cheese, put mixture into an oven safe casserole dish (I have a round glass one I like) and then put the rest of the cheese on top. Bake at 350 until the cheese is bubbly. OMG - I am so hungry for this right now. It would totally blow my diet though. Enjoy!

Ok - now that we got that over with...what else were we going to talk about today? Oh yeah, ME! My favorite subject...kidding! ...kind of...

I am feeling better - over my cold pretty much. The not smoking is going fairly well...it is difficult but becoming easier (today is my 11th day without a cigarette). Getting excited for my Birthday and vacation...

Did I tell you that my yoga instructor quit? Yes, possibly because she was admitted to a psychiatric facility (I'm joking - that was mean, sorry)...so I joined a different class...this one at a real yoga studio (instead of through community ed), it starts after I get back from vaca. I still haven't struggled through that self help book I was telling you about. It is starting to get a little easier reading (as long as you look at it objectively), but it was still kinda painful so I bailed on it for now and started reading the Twilight series for the 4th time. I know - I have a serious problem. I'll pick the self help book back up again when I am done with the Twilight series (I am half way through book 3 again right now), and give you updates. I probably won't take it to the beach with me though, because people might look at me funny if they see me reading a book titled "There is nothing wrong with you" (funnier than usual, I mean).

Steve has been feeling really good - it's crazy how much that chemo takes out of you. I mean, he was feeling better after a couple of weeks...but he is finally now just starting to feel 100%, as far as I can tell (and his last round was almost 2 months ago). He has his next surveillance appointment in April, I believe, so we will keep you posted!

Look for my Hanabi post and some serious food posts in the next few days. Goodbye for now!

Printable Recipe

Valentine's Day

Did I ever tell you what Steve got me for Valentine's Day? He took me on a trip to Kansas City to see my Stephanie. Because I am an evil genius, I decided to make it a surprise. I emailed Steph's boyfriend Chad, and we planned and plotted and I swore him to secrecy (upon penalty of death, of course). Then, I made up a story to Steph about how her birthday present was going to be late...and a couple days before we left, I told her that I tracked the present and that it should be arriving on Friday (the day that Steve and I were arriving...genius, right?). Unfortunately, Stephanie and I have the ability to read each-others minds, and she had a "feeling" that I was coming, so she really wasn't as surprised as she should have been. But it was a genius plot nonetheless, and she was still very happy to see us!

Then, it was Chad's turn to be sneaky...as his Valentine's day gift to Steph (and Steve and I too - thanks Chad!), he booked us a ride on a Cinderella carriage through The Plaza...and bought Steph and I each a dozen roses. How sweet is that? Here are some pics from our fairy tale ride:

Here is us, in the carriage, holding our flowers...

Steph and Chad. *SIGH* I miss and love them very much.

Steve and I. Notice my red nose. Unfortunately, I woke up Friday with that terrible cold I had all week last week, so I was sick and lame while I was there. I tried to be a rockstar though.

This was what our carriage looked like...nevermind that it's a blurry picture - it's the only one that I have of it all lit up. Gorgeous! 
Even though I was sick and lame, it was so very good to see Steph and Chad. I would like to take this moment to give thanks for the sweet and thoughtful men in our lives, without whom this trip would never have been possible. I miss you Steph! I hope I can see you again soon! xoxo

February 23, 2010

Two Things.

Ok three. Because you know I just can't help including that randomness at the end. Anyway:
  1.  13 days until I leave for vacation blissdom. Starting to get super excited! Unfortunately, losing 10 pounds before I go is probably not going to happen, because I was too sick to exercise for a week, but evidently not too sick to eat. FAIL.
  2. 9 days since I've smoked a cigarette. 7 for Steve. NINE DAYS PEOPLE!!! And it is starting to get (slightly) easier. And I haven't even replaced smoking with food (with the exception of one day when I ate an entire pizza by myself. See comment #1. ), sunflower seeds, toxic gum, patches, or anything else unhealthy. Unless you consider bitching unhealthy. Say a prayer for Steve, now known as "The Luckiest Man Alive". Hee hee hee. 
  3. Random: Have I mentioned before how much I love the golf course that is by my house? In the winter time, there is never anyone there. I don't understand it - I see snowshoe tracks and cross country ski tracks, but I never ever see anyone else. The below pics (are crappy because I took them on my phone) are from Sunday. Kempton and I went for a hike, and it was so beautiful out that after hiking for about 40 minutes, we sat down under a tree in the sunshine and just soaked it up. It was lovely.
Just miles of gently rolling hills and trees. And with that peaceful thought, I leave you. For now. 

February 17, 2010

Guest Post: Tara's Nice Bass!!!

Lindsey's note: Here is a wonderful recipe that my friend Tara made for her boyfriend Eli last night for a belated Valentine's Day dinner. If you are looking for a recipe to impress, this would be it! Tara is much more ambitious and brave than I am when it comes to cooking...I would have taken one look at this and ran screaming in the other direction. Usually if I haven't ever heard of or can't pronounce more than two ingredients in a recipe I cry and give up, but she persevered and the results were amazing! If you live in a small town, you probably will need to plan ahead and order the black rice and farro online, and possibly order the fish from your local grocery store (if they do that sort of thing). Please make this for someone you love - it will be worth it! 

The following recipe was adapted by Tara from: Zen Can Cook.

Bass with farro, black rice, baby spinach and tangerine:
-Fish (I used one sea bass fillet, I know they are over fished, but it was already dead, couldn’t let it go to waste and because it tastes to goooood. Nice justification right? The recipe called for striped bass, but I couldn’t find any here. Halibut, cod, mahi, salmon would be good, but I think trout would be spectacular.) So this recipe feeds 8 or probably 6 hungry people, choose number of fillets accordingly.  Remove the skin.
4 tangerines
1 T thyme
2 T olive oil
2 T parsley, chopped
1 t sugar
4 T butter unsalted
salt and pepper to taste

-Farro, black rice, green garlic & spinach
6 T olive oil
1 C onion, chopped
2 chile de arbol chopped (I couldn’t find this pepper, use something with a little heat, but not burn your face off hot.)
3/4 white wine
1 T thyme
1/2 C green garlic, sliced (I used ¼ C of elephant garlic instead)
8 OZ baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 C black rice (The whole foods grocery store has this usually in a pre-packaged bag. Not in the bulk section. Very high in fiber, amino acids and iron and has a deep nutty taste. It was referred to as the forbidden rice. Ohlalala.)
1 1/2 C Farro (This may be harder to find, but it’s worth it if you can find it. Buy it online or order it from your grocery store. In a pinch you could probably substitute barley or spelt. It is an Italian grain from which all grains have descended. It has a firm texture and nutty flavor.)

Marinate the fish -
Zest the tangerines in a zip lock bag and combine with the 1 T of thyme and 2 T parsley. Throw the fish in and let it soak up the zest herb mix for at least 4 hours. I marinated for 24 hours.

Black Rice-
I used Gina’s wild rice recipe for this the night before. Lindsey's note: our friend Gina has taught us a fantastic wild rice recipe, which Tara duplicated for the black rice...I think it goes something like this: preheat the oven to 500 degrees, put washed rice, water and optional chicken bouillon in casserole dish. Cover, put in oven then turn oven off and let it sit overnight (without peaking or opening the door!). Usually it is one part rice to three parts water (example: 1 cup of uncooked rice, 3 cups water), and then I use one cube of bouillon for each cup of water used.

I bought the Farro from Saras table. The chef told me I didn’t have to soak it, but some packages say you need to depending on the quality of the rice. He suggested I make it somewhat like risotto. Sure thing chef! In a medium pan I added the 2 T of olive oil and sauteed the chopped onion and chili until translucent. I dumped the rice in with the garlic to combine the flavors for about one minute. Pour the golden elixir, I mean wine, in and let the farro soak that all up. I kept stirring and adding more water and simmering it down until the farro was cooked. I think I added about 5 c of water in all.

Rice and Spinach
Combine the black rice and farro. (Since I made the black rice the night before I just used the same pan.) Dump the spinach in and add the rest of the olive oil 4 T. The spinach should wilt. I added about ¼ C of wine as well so the rice didn’t burn.  Keep warm. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

The Tangerine Syrup-
Juice 3 tangerines into a sauce pan and add the 1 t of sugar. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer and reduce until syrupy.  Then whisk in 4 T of butter.  Don’t make my mistake, use unsalted butter for this.  Keep warm.

Tangerine Slices-
Cut the remaining tangerine into slices without the rind.

The Fish-
Season the fish with salt and pepper. Heat a pan over medium high heat, add the 2 T of olive oil and when hot (not smoldering) lay the fish in the pan with the marinate. Each side of my fillet took about 4 minutes. It is easy to overcook so don’t be running off multi-tasking right now.

The grand finale-
Plop some farro, black rice, spinach mixture on each plate. Top with the fish. Spoon some syrup over the fish about 1 T.  Then place a couple of tangerine slices on the side. 

PS. I also made 2 king crab legs and placed the meat on top of the fish, totally unnecessary, but hey it was a valentines dinner…Eli cried it was so good.
(pretend there are tangerine slices in the picture below)

I want my mommy.

Sorry that I haven't been blogging. I am currently dying from a terrible cold/sinus infection that is probably H1N1. Oink. And I am a terrible drama queen, so what this means is that I can't function until I feel better. I haven't been cooking, I haven't been meditating, I haven't been exercising, I haven't been blogging...I have basically just been moping around and whining to anyone who would listen to me about how miserable I feel. Steve is at a conference today, so my new audience is...YOU! Your welcome. And things are about to escalate into a temper tantrum. Because I'M TIRED OF BEING SICK! I want to feel better already. WAAAAAAAHHHHHH! (Picture me laying on the floor kicking my feet and crying)

Ok, now that I got that out....

I do have a couple of posts in reserve (like pics and a review from that new sushi restaurant that opened in town that I promised you, like 6 weeks ago? Or the pics from surprising my bestie in Kansas City with a visit?), but I am tired and cranky and lacking my usual wit (ha!) so I am going to wait until I'm feeling better and can do them justice. But because I love you so much, and because I know that you need something to take your mind off of work...I am going to have my first guest post today! YAY! My friend Tara made a FANTASTIC belated Valentine's dinner for her boyfriend Eli last night and she is going to share the recipe with us! Look for it this afternoon. And prepare to be amazed.

PS - I have started the countdown to my Birthday trip. In 19 days, I will be laying on a beach in the sunshine! Hallelujah!!! Wait. That means in 19 days I will be wearing a swimsuit. In public. Oh crap. Don't be surprised if the only thing I make in the next 19 days (after I kick this illness) is salad.

PPS - Mom: if you want to drive down here and make me chicken noodle soup and take care of me, that would be great. Thank you.

February 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Daddy!

This is what he was doing last year on his birthday - Mexico! 
Sorry I am a day late! I love you and I hope you had a fantastic birthday. Maybe next year we can celebrate in Mexico again? Thank you for being you. Your love and support mean the world to me. 
Miss you!
P.S.Sorry that this isn't very poetic but I am hopped up on cold medicine right now.

February 9, 2010

Blow your frickin mind Risotto

Mmmmmmmm - Risotto! Delicious and creamy and salty. It's like nothing else on the planet. My friend Steph made champagne risotto for her boyfriend Chad's birthday a few weeks back, and ever since she told me about it, I haven't been able to stop thinking about risotto...I had to make it.

Of course, that was last week and I didn't use a recipe and I've killed plenty of braincells between now and then...but I will try to remember exactly what I did. The best part of risotto, though (rhyme!), is that it doesn't matter! The principle is the same - slowly cook Arborio rice while you stir in liquid (like broth) and it gets creamy and moist and wonderful! You can add whatever the heck you want to it (I used asparagus, shiitake mushrooms and Parmesan cheese)! Here is what I did (I think):

Asparagus and Shiitake Mushroom Risotto (serves 6 as a side dish)
  • 1.5 cups of Arborio rice (don't substitute...I have used other kinds of rice and it is not the same. Trust me)
  • 1-2 shallots
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil or butter 
  • lots of chicken broth (I think I used at least 5-6 cups of the fat free, low sodium kind)
  • bunch of asparagus
  • package of shiitake mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms)
  • 1.5 cups of high quality Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • salt and pepper
  • ground thyme
 Ok - first, it is helpful to get everything prepped before you start the rice. The reason for this is that you will be a slave to the stove once the rice goes in. So - finely chop your shallots and garlic. Clean the mushrooms and slice them into bite-sized pieces, clean the asparagus (break off the woody stems) and cut them into bite sized pieces, grate the parm cheese (or beg your boyfriend to please do it...see pic below), dump your chicken broth into a medium saucepan/pot and start heating it.

Melt some butter in a large saute pan (or you could use a dutch oven), and saute the mushrooms, set aside. Add more butter (or oil) if necessary and saute the shallots and garlic until they are tender. When the chicken broth is simmering, blanch the asparagus (in the broth) for 2 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside with the mushrooms.

When the shallots and garlic are tender, add the rice...stir around to coat it with the butter/garlic/shallots and just cook on medium heat for a few minutes...add the wine and stir until it is absorbed...then start adding the chicken broth 1/2 cup - 1 cup at a time. You can start with a larger amount but as it gets more done, you might want to add smaller amounts; stirring constantly. As soon as the liquid is almost absorbed, add more and continue to stir. Keep doing that and checking the rice for done-ness every so often, and adding salt, pepper and thyme to taste (keep in mind that parm cheese is salty - so don't over do the salt please). Once the rice is almost completely cooked, throw in the asparagus and mushrooms. Right before you serve it, throw in the parmesan cheese. Then thank your maker for giving us something as delicious as risotto. Steve grilled some shrimp while I was stirring (marinated in butter, garlic and Worcestershire sauce), and we had the shrimp and risotto with a glass of nice white wine.

You could also serve it with a salad, or a piece of grilled fish. Or pretty much anything. Seriously - a note on substitutes: you can put almost anything in risotto. If you want red peppers or leeks or squash or tomatoes or no vegetables at all, fine. If you want to use veggie broth instead of chicken broth and make it vegetarian, fine. If you want to add diced up chicken, shrimp, scallops or tofu, I certainly won't stop you. Champagne instead of wine? No alcohol at all? Cheese, no cheese - I don't care. Make it how you want it. Just make it. Soon. And smile!
PS - Someday, if you are lucky, I will share Grandma Grow's risotto recipe with you...it was my first introduction to risotto, and it is still one of my favorite comfort foods. But not today. That would just be a yummy-ness overload.

Printable Recipe

Cal's Adventure

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

~Bilbo Baggins, from JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings 



My big brother left last week to move out to Washington to be with his fiance. I am so proud of him, but so sad he is leaving...I have taken for granted the fact that he has lived so close for so long. I was going through some old pictures and feeling sentimental, so here is one of Cal last spring at the cabin, holding up a fish he caught...



I just had to include this old pic of Cal and I...mostly because look at how young and skinny we look! Simpler times, simpler times.



And  here is Cal's son (my nephew), showing me where Washington is on the map. So cute!


Cal: I wish you the best of luck on your new adventure! Have a great time exploring new places, meeting new people and eating your fill of fresh seafood! But remember - you are always welcome to come back home! Love you! 

February 8, 2010

Super fast tomato pasta deliciousness

The other night I was home by myself with very limited groceries. I was hungry (surprise!) and craving something fantastic, but didn't want to change out of my sweatpants, so I pulled together a few ingredients that most people have on hand for a delicious and (kinda) nutritious meal*. Check it out (and note that this made 2 generous servings - you could easily double or triple if you have to):

Super Fast Tomato Pasta Deliciousness
  • 1 cup dry white wine (but you could also use chicken broth)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (you could also use fresh, may take longer to cook though)
  • dried herbs
  • salt, pepper, sugar
  • 2 small shallots or 1/2 a medium onions (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 box of pasta
  • parmesan cheese
 I had shallots leftover from my heart-pounding, head-spinning, feet-sweeping Risotto (who are you calling dramatic???) that I made the other night, but you could easily use regular onion. Or just omit it. But I diced up the shallots and the garlic, sauteed them with the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan until they were very tender. Then I stirred in the wine and let it cook down until it was reduced by half. I added the tomatoes and the herbs (I used basil, oregano and - of course - a couple dashes of Pizza and Pasta Magic...because it was the right thing to do) and let it all cook for about 20 minutes, stirring and tasting occasionally. This is when I also added the salt, pepper and about 1-2 Tablespoons of white sugar. Meanwhile, I cooked my pasta (I used whole wheat Penne but you could use anything) according to the package. When it was all done I tossed the pasta and sauce together (but only what I was going to eat that night - the rest I refrigerated separately so that the pasta doesn't soak up all the sauce), and then gave it a generous sprinkling of parm cheese. Viola! Add a glass of wine and a small salad for a complete meal. Simple, fast and delicious! It was even better the next day!
* you could also add things you had on hand such as mushrooms or artichokes, or you could add meat to make it more hearty. Whatever floats your boat!

Printable Recipe

Self help books (FAIL!) and meditation (PASS!)

This is the book that I am reading right now:
Pretty deep, huh? I'm only about 15 pages into it right now, but so far it's...terrible. Tedious and confusing and very hard to read (even though it is written in like size 18 font with double spaces). I stumbled across it when I was looking for this book:
Which is actually suppose to be a really good book for what I am trying to do (you know - my self awareness campaign?). Notice they are by the same author - Cheri Huber, who is a well respected Zen teacher. This book is about how to break bad habits (such as smoking, avoiding, not being honest with yourself, etc) and start good habits (such as exercising, self awareness/introspection, inner peace, etc) which is of course something that I need help with, and who can resist a good self-help book? It includes a 30-day program of meditation, contemplation and journaling and I felt like it was right up my alley (some of you already now that I have started to take an interest in yoga, including meditation), so I decided to check it out. I found it on Amazon, and you could get it bundled with the first book I told you about -" There is nothing wrong with you. Going beyond self-hate" and another book of hers called "Be the person you want to find. Relationship and self-discovery", for a really good price. So I bought all 3. And I am barely into the first one and I hate it. I'll power through it and keep you posted, but so far it is definitely a FAIL. Hopefully the second book (the one that I initially sought out), works out better.  For the record - I felt like a complete lunatic when these books showed up at my door. It seemed like such a good idea when I ordered them, but when they came I had to shove them into the closet so that nobody could see them. I have since come to terms with it.

But on a lighter note - I am really enjoying learning meditation. It is sometimes difficult for me because I can't sit still for very long without my back starting to hurt (which is one of the many reasons to practice Hatha Yoga - the yoga we think of today that includes stretching and bending - because it helps physically train your body for meditation by improving your strength, posture and flexibility), but totally worth it. The more I've read about meditation, the more benefits I find - most of them scientifically proven! Here are just a handful of things that caught my attention/interest:
  • Calms emotions
  • Relaxes the mind
  • Sharpens reasoning
  • Develop an attitude of mindfulness that can help you see negative patterns of behavior and change them
  • Reduces negative emotions such as anger, fear, anxiety, greed and depression
  • Decreases metabolic rate
  • Lowers heart rate
  • Reduces stres
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Slows aging process of the brain
  • Self awareness and spiritual realization
Pretty cool huh? I'll stop shoving this stuff down your throat, but this is me sharing with you and keeping you posted on what is going on! Yay! You are welcome. 


I am soooo behind on blogging right now - I am sorry, I will work on it this week! Here is a teaser of the things I need to post: farewell/good luck email for my brother (who moved) including pics of my nephew from our last visit; this delightful, creamy, delicious, tasty, wonderful risotto recipe that I made last week; superbowl pics; easy tomato pasta recipe that I made this weekend; update on my ramblings. Are you sitting on the edge of your seat yet??? Unfortunately, most of these things have pics that go with them that are currently on my camera at home. So you are going to have to wait! Unless...........
Unless I blog out of chronological order (gasp!), and then I can give you a couple today. What do you think?

February 3, 2010

Epiphanies. Ramblings.

I realize that this blog has been slowly turning into a cooking blog (and probably a not very good cooking blog at that, considering I have absolutely no training and very little experience to draw from). The original intention of this blog was to be a kind of e-diary/scrapbook for me...a way for me to express my emotions online, and a therapeutic way to work through some issues...because it is easier to type than it is to write, and because maybe then it would be easier for those close to me to understand how I feel or what I am going through; as well as being a way to keep in touch and share pictures and stories.

There are several reasons why it never quite became those things. 1. I love to cook. And eat. It makes me happy and is one of my few "constructive" releases. It is an outlet for my creativity and I really enjoy both the process and the finished product. Plus, it is a way for me to share and give something of myself to the people that I love when they come over to eat. Cooking takes up a lot of my time and energy, so naturally it is a topic that I like to talk/write about. 2. I've been struggling with self-reflection. Mostly because it is hard to look inward at yourself when you can't find anything good to focus on, and because there are piles and piles of issues and guilt inside me that are hard to deal with. Did I mention that I am an avoid-er? 3. I don't really want people to feel sorry for me. I don't want people to think I'm just bitching and whining "poooor me!" I also don't want this blog to become something super negative that brings people down when they read it. 4. I don't know if I believe that anyone else really can understand. I mean, people can sympathize and empathize and choose to not judge me (which I really do appreciate, by the way), but seriously - every person is different. Every marriage is different, therefore every divorce is different. Everyone's emotions are different and their experiences are different. The way people deal with things are all very different, which makes it very difficult for anyone to understand my specific scenario. At this time I would like to say a big THANK YOU to those of you who have really tried to understand, or those of you who don't understand but love and support me anyway. 5. I have a hard time sharing how I really feel with most people. I don't think that I was always that way, but I have somehow managed to become one of those people that talks a lot, but says very little (when it comes to my problems, anyway). I think even my closest friends and family were shocked when I announced Jim and I separated, because I had so successfully closed off true/open communication with almost everyone (especially my husband).

These are all reasons that this blog has become more superficial and less intimate/autobiographical. However, the other night I was writing in my 'paper' journal and thinking, "OMG - writing by hand SUCKS! My hand hurts! I should totally start an e-journal because I can type so much faster than I can write." And then I was like, "DUH - I have an e-journal! My blog is suppose to be my e-journal!" So I started thinking about all this stuff and wondering if I could really use this as an actual journal, and I decided that no - I could never use this blog in the same way that I use my paper journal. Just for the fact that some thoughts are way too personal - and there are some things that are best kept private. Sometimes some of the thoughts or ideas or concepts I write down are things I don't want anyone to see. Some things aren't even true. Most things aren't completely true - they are just thoughts that I am having at that moment. And usually, the only time I feel the need to journal is when I am sad or angry or if I have an "epiphany" of some sort (yes, I have brilliant epiphanies all of the time - stop laughing. LOL.). But - there isn't any reason that I can't share some of my epiphanies with you! I don't plan to stop blogging about food - because it's something that I like to do - but I think that there are a few of you out there that would also appreciate knowing a little more than what I had for dinner and who I'm going to hang out with this weekend. Plus, I think it would be good for me to open up a little bit more. I am in the middle (or maybe even the beginning) of the long, hard process of serious soul searching and self evaluation right now, and maybe some of it would make for an entertaining read! And more importantly, maybe it will help me overcome some of the issues/challenges I listed above.

"Drip Beef" and Asian Noodle Salad

Have I mentioned that I love the Pioneer Woman blog? She makes me laugh and although most of her recipes contain way too much butter and/or heavy cream for my tastes, sometimes she posts one that is right up my alley. If you haven't ever been to her website, you should definitely check in out: The Pioneer Woman. Both of the recipes we are going to talk about today are from her site (and so are the pictures because I have been a camera slacker).

1. Today she posted two recipes for "Drip Beef" (aka French Dips), which is one of my all time favorite meals...which you would know if you read this post. Don't get me wrong, I love my random recipe creation of slow cooker beef with wine, beer and bouillon (I mean really - a recipe that incorporates wine and beer?! How can you go wrong???), but I saw these two new recipes and they caught my attention. Especially the Italian one. I loooooove pepperoncini peppers!

PW's Drip Beef
  • 1 whole Beef Chuck Roast, 2.5 To 4 Pounds
  • 1 can Beef Consomme Or Beef Broth
  • 3 Tablespoons (heaping) Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ cups Water
  • ½ jars (16 Oz) Pepperoncini Peppers, With Juice
  • Buttered, Toasted Deli Rolls
Preparation Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Stir lightly to combine seasoning with the liquid.
Cover and bake in a 275 degree oven* for 5 to 6 hours, or until meat is fork-tender and falling apart.
Remove from oven. With two forks, completely shred all meat, leaving no large chunks behind. Serve immediately, or keep warm over a simmer on the stove.
May make the day before, then store in the refrigerator. Remove the hardened fat from the top before reheating.
Serve on buttered, toasted rolls. Top with cheese and melt under the broiler if desired. Serve with juices from the pot.

OMG - YUM!!!
I must try this recipe soon.

2. Last night Tara and I made PW's Asian Noodle Salad. It is one of the lighter recipes on her site, and if you need a dose of vitamin packed veggies, this is the salad for you. It is really easy to make - but it requires a lot of chopping. And, it makes about 50,000 servings - so invite friends over if you are going to make this. We didn't do that part and now we have Asian Noodle Salad coming out our asses. But - it's delicious and decidedly different. Here is the recipe below...with very few of my alterations!

  • 1 package Linguine Noodles, Cooked, Rinsed, And Cooled I used whole wheat linguine
  • ½ heads Sliced Napa Cabbage, Or More To Taste
  • ½ heads Sliced Purple Cabbage, Or More To Taste
  • ½ bags Baby Spinach, Or More To Taste
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Sliced Thin We used half of each bell pepper
  • 1 whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Sliced Thin
  • 1 whole Orange Bell Pepper, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 bag Bean Sprouts (also Called Mung Bean Sprouts)
  • Chopped Cilantro, Up To 1 Bunch, To Taste
  • 3 whole Scallions, Sliced
  • 3 whole Cucumbers Peeled And Sliced We used two
  • 1 can (about 10 Oz.) Whole Cashews, Lightly Toasted In Skillet
  • _____
  • 1 whole Lime, Juiced I added extra lime juice
  • 8 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 8 Tablespoons Soy Sauce I added a couple more Tablespoons when I saw how much salad we had
  • 2 Tablespoons (up To 3 Tablespoons) Sesame Oil
  • ⅓ cups Brown Sugar I added an extra tablespoon
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger Chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 2 whole Hot Peppers Or Jalapeno's, Chopped
  • Chopped Cilantro We left this out so that the dressing would keep longer, and just added extra cilantro to the salad
Preparation Instructions
Mix salad ingredients together. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve on a platter. You can mix it up and use whatever veggies you want - or use more/less of each veggie depending on your tastes.
Note: dressing keeps for up to three days before serving, without cilantro.

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February 2, 2010

Vegetable Beef Soup (with Barley)

I almost didn't post this recipe, because it isn't really a recipe at all. I have never made vegetable beef, beef barley, vegetable beef barley, or any combination of vegetables, beef and barley in a soup before - and I couldn't find a recipe that had everything I wanted...so this was an experiment. It did turn out really good - but some of the stuff I did was unnecessary (like cook the veggies separately in the slow cooker - FAIL! They weren't even done after cooking all day on warm/low, so I had to put them on the stove anyway), so I will tell you the right way to do things and try to keep it as organized as possible. Ha!

Vegetable Beef Soup (with Barley)
  • 1.5 lbs of cooked shredded beef (I did a big rump roast in the crock pot over night with 1 cup red wine, 1 bottle of beer and a couple of tablespoons of beef bouillon. After skimming the fat off I reserved about 2-3 cups of the juice and cut the roast in half...used half here and put the other half with rest of juices in freezer for later use.)
  • Veggies! You can use frozen veggies - I won't tell. I used fresh though. Steve and I basically walked around the produce department and decided what we wanted: 1 small bag of carrots, 2 potatoes, 1/2 package of celery, one whole package of green beans and an onion. Then I grabbed a bag of frozen peas (and used about 2 cups) and a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. Use whatever veggies you want - leeks, turnips, or zucchini would be good in here too. So would mushrooms!
  • Pearl Barley (I used the regular stuff, not the quick cooking. Cause that would be too easy)
  • 2-3 of the 32 oz cartons of fat free/reduced sodium beef broth (or homemade beef stock if you have it)
  • Olive Oil
  • beef bouillon*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic (depends on how many vampires are in your area)
  • thyme (I used dried)*
  • basil (I used dried)*
  • oregano (dried)*
  • a little shake (or two) of pizza and pasta magic
  • salt, pepper, white sugar*
*Sorry that I don't put the amounts in for these...I just think spices are such a personal thing. Besides, I just dump, taste, dump, taste, etc. with a little cooking time in between. I would start with a tablespoon of each herb and the sugar, and then work your way up from there.  Salt and pepper just do to your liking.

Have your meat cooked, shredded (or diced) and set aside. Dice up all of your veggies into bite sized pieces and saute them, in batches, in olive oil (except for peas and the tomatoes) until they are just starting to get tender (but not soft - they will cook more later!). Some veggies, like green beans, won't take as long to soften as other veggies, like carrots, so keep that in mind while you are doing this. When tender, throw all of your veggies into a big stockpot/soup kettle, add beef broth, meat (if you used my crock pot recipe, also add a couple cups of the liquid from the meat), and spices (like I said, start with a tablespoon and adjust later). Bring to a boil, then add the rinsed barley (I forgot to rinse my barley before I added it. I didn't die, or even get sick. Please don't tell me that barley grows in poop or something and that's why you need to wash it). Let it all simmer for 45 min - 1 hour, then turn it down to low and start taste-testing and adjusting the seasonings until it's where you want it. I found that I needed to add a lot of beef bouillon to get the sodium that I wanted. Part of the reason for this is that my barley soaked up more of my broth than I wanted, and I was out of beef broth so I had to add a couple cups of water.

Sorry that this is kinda scattered and random - that is pretty much how I think these days! Enjoy!

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Happy Birthday Steph!

Today is my friend Stephanie's 27th birthday. Steph and I met through work a couple of years ago, and once I decided that she wasn't a total bitch (ha!) we became inseparable best friends. It feels like we've known each other forever, and she has brought so much laughter to my life. We have helped eachother through some pretty intense things in our short time together, and I am very grateful that I found her.

Dear Steph:
Happy 27th Birthday to my soul-friend (get it - like my soul-mate of friends???)!!! I miss seeing you every single day. I miss sitting in the cube next to you, I miss having lunch with you every day, I miss walking the dogs together and I miss you coming over for dinner and bloody mary's! You are perfect for me! I wish I could be there to celebrate with you. Move back home please!
I hope that you have a very happy Birthday and I can't wait until the next time I can see you! I love you and miss you! xoxo